Jester Center

The Association of Black Fine Arts Students held its first “Grand Slam Drum Jam” in the Spanish Oaks Terrace at the Jester Center on Friday.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The Association of Black Fine Arts Students held its first “Grand Slam Drum Jam” at the Jester Center’s Spanish Oaks Terrace on Friday to promote art activism in the college

Lakeem Wilson, studio art senior and president of the organization, said the group is centered around fine arts students but invites all students with artistic passions to join.

“The main goal, which is part of our artist statement, [is to] get artists to exhibit their work and give them an opportunity to express their talents, and also to get a community of people to come and break out of their comfort zone,” Wilson said.

The event began with an icebreaker activity called “Catch the Tempo,” in which the members played instruments the organization created from scratch.

“Everyone makes a music circle,”  Wilson said. “The first person will start it and keep the beat — then we’ll see how the energy gets and how the vibes are.”

The organization also had performers, singers and poets from the University perform. The group hoped these performances would encourage other students to express themselves through art and music.

Jessica Bathea, economics sophomore and the organization’s social media chair, also performed during the event.

“As a performer, my goal right now, in the four years we’re in college, is to [relax] because we’re under all this stress as students and receiving dismal information about the world,” Bathea said. “My goal is to provide people with a sense of joy and relief that is past all the negative news, teachings and government.”

The event also included downtime for members to write on the organization’s “Dreamer’s Wall” or grab the microphone and freestyle. According to Wilson, both options were intended to force people to share what they really feel.

Erwin De Luna, President of United San Antonio Pow Wow, speaks to the crowd at the blessing of the American Indians in Texas gallery on Wednesday afternoon. 

Photo Credit: Aaron Berecka | Daily Texan Staff

Elders from 12 different Native American tribes traveled to UT to bless the opening of the American Indians in Texas gallery at Jester Center on Wednesday. 

Lee Walters, Blackfeet tribe elder and associate director at the Division of Housing and Food Service, said the gallery provides an account of the tumultuous 12,000 year history of Native American tribes in Texas.

“We are here to cleanse all the negativity, so this endeavor is blessed for good things,” Walters said.

After the blessing ceremony, tribal elders in full regalia led a powwow in J2 while students sampled dishes from the pre-Colombian menu of indigenous Texans.

Robert Mayberry, executive chef at J2, said that food is integral to culture of a region and traditional ingredients are the flavor.

“The food that you grow up with is intrinsically intertwined with people and landscape,” Mayberry said. “The plants and animals of the surrounding environment were brought to the kitchen, and then families gathered around the hearth fire to eat a meal together.”

Walters said Native American students who come from reservations experience culture shock.

“A lot of native youth feel homesick, so you have to build a community where they feel welcome,” Walters said.

Walters said life on the reservation is difficult, but Native American students have the opportunity to improve conditions.

“We’re starting to see a lot more American Indians come into higher education to get graduate’s degrees and then bringing this knowledge back to the reservation,” Walters said.

Jim Cox, professor of English and associate director of Native American and Indigenous studies, said Native American literature sheds light on issues that do not receive their due recognition.

“In general terms, the predicament of the reservations is misunderstood and neglected because when you talk about Native Americans, you have to talk about unpleasant parts of American history,” Cox said. “There’s an unwillingness to face many of these episodes.”

Cox said these works place an equal emphasis on the horrors that have been overcome as well as hope for an improved future and attest to a people's capability to survive.

 "Land loss, military defeat, alcoholism, poverty and racism still define the experience of many Native American authors, but their literature maintains a spirit of endurance," Cox said.

Floyd Hoelting, executive director of DHFS, said the gallery is part of an initiative to build a culturally inclusive environment.

“A lot of our students have never seen a powwow, never seen celebration drumming,” Hoelting said. “It piques interest in other cultures.” 

Clarification: The article about the native americanAmerican Indians in Texas gallery at Jester Center" in the Oct. 31 issue of The Daily Texan has been clarified. Professor Jim Cox said, "Land loss, military defeat, alcoholism, poverty and racism still define the experience of many Native American authors, but their literature maintains a spirit of endurance." This clarification was run in the Nov. 4 issue of The Daily Texan.

UT President William Powers Jr.’s official speech writer Avrel Seal has been researching and crafting speeches for Powers for 2 years. Seale was previous editor-in-chief of The Alcalde for 17 years which has been attributed with helping him write effectively. 

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

As a college student in the late ’80s, he worked in the Jester Center cafeteria. A few years later, he fronted a classic-rock band called The Plan. In 1990, he was a file clerk at a freeze-dried food plant. Today, he is UT President William Powers Jr.’s official speechwriter. 

From his office on the second floor of the Main Building, Avrel Seale helps craft many of Powers’ longer addresses, but he’s quick to point out that speechwriting is only about half of his job. When Seale isn’t writing speeches, he’s researching facts, gathering relevant statistics and even finding out whether or not Powers will be speaking from behind a podium.  

“Often my job means doing research and serving as a sounding board,” Seale said. “I’m the caddy and he’s Tiger Woods.”

Each year, Seale helps Powers prepare for roughly 200 speeches, including his annual State of the University address and the presentations Powers gives to the Board of Regents. Preparing the State of the University is a roughly six-week process and Seale said the first draft — which he writes — usually has little in common with the finished product, 13 drafts later.

“We go back and forth a lot on that speech,” Seale said. “I try not to get too attached.”

Seale worked as editor-in-chief of The Alcalde, the Texas Exes’ alumni magazine, for 17 years. Tim Taliaferro, the current editor, said Seale’s background at the magazine helps make him an effective speechwriter. 

“Avrel comes from a background that prizes anecdotes, evidence, clear expositions,” Taliaferro said. “President Powers, God love him, is an academic. He can go sprawling off in any direction, which is a blessing and a curse. Avrel keeps him pointed.” 

Seale said when it comes time to craft speeches for the president, Seale’s personal voice takes a backseat to the voice of the institution. 

“There is an institutionally appropriate voice you have to find,” Seale said. “It’s conversational, but not chatty. Formal, but not stilted. Active, but not passive — and graceful but not flowery.” 

Seale also cited clarity as a key goal in any speech because Powers often delivers presentations on broad or conceptual topics. Kim Gundersen, associate director of the Texas Exes, said making the abstract picture relatable is one of the things Seale does best. 

“A speech is memorable when it resonates with the individual, when there’s something about it that goes beyond the brain and into the heart,” Gunderson said. “To do that, you have to understand your audience, and Avrel does.”

Seale said Powers adds an individual touch to every speech. Powers is a particular fan of “Moneyball,” a book by Michael Lewis that focuses on the importance of correct resource allocation in baseball. Seale said Powers’ arsenal of references is still deep enough to surprise him. Earlier this month, Powers addressed a group in the Cockrell School of Engineering using an extended metaphor from “The Hobbit.” 

Seale also gets to work references into Powers’ remarks every so often. In a recent speech about the Committee on Business Productivity, Powers used a metaphor involving an obelisk that stood in the middle of Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1586. 

“Sometimes I’ll get a particular idea I want to introduce,” Seale said. “I was particularly glad he liked the obelisk.”

When asked if he ever suggests those frequent Moneyball references, Seale shook his head and laughed.

“Oh, no,” Seale said. “Those are always him.” 

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Speechwriter talks". 

A student studying in the SAC leaves their computer unattended Thursday afternoon. This act, which happens throughout the campus, occasionally leads to theft of students' belongings.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

Trust may be a virtue, but unfortunately it’s often an important factor leading to campus theft, said UT Police Department officer Darrell Halstead.

Students reported 121 thefts in the Perry-Castaneda Library from 2009 to 2011, making it the top location for property theft on campus, said crime analyst Roxanne Hodgins.

Gregory Gym, with 115 reported stolen items, and the Jester Center, with 112, were the second and third most popular locations for thieves on campus.

“Trust is a virtue that thieves want you to have,” Halstead said. “If you leave your stuff unattended on campus, it will get stolen.”

Halstead said students file stolen property reports on a daily basis.

“There are one or two days in a year when we do not file a report for a stolen item,” Halstead said. “The reports are almost constant.”

Halstead said students can protect their belongings by getting their valuables, like laptops and other electronics engraved and by registering any items that have serial numbers in the UTPD Property Registration system. Halstead said officers are not allowed to open a laptop, even if they believe it may have been stolen. He said that engraving a laptop with your name or registering it in a database allows officers to identify it as stolen.

“Thieves are banking on the fact that you do not have your belongings registered,” Halstead said. “When you enter your items into a registry, UTPD catches thieves.”

Halstead said representatives of UTPD frequently hold sessions outside of the PCL, dormitories and other University facilities where they offer free engraving and help students register their belongings. However, students are often uninterested or do not have the time to stop, said Halstead.

Plan II freshman Randy Olmsted said losing his backpack last semester has made him more conscientious with his belongings.

“I had to suffer through finals last semester without any of my notes,” Olmsted said. “At the time I was more worried about the inconvenience than the actual cost of replacing my laptop.”

He said someone returned his backpack halfway through winter break, but he does not think people are generally able to recover their lost possessions.

“When your things disappear because you leave them unattended, you are probably not going to get them back,” Olmsted said.

He said he was surprised by how helpful UTPD was when he reported his backpack stolen.

“I was not sure where I had left my backpack at first,” he said. “But the police looked over security camera footage with me, and we found the exact building where I had left it. They had footage of me walking in with my backpack and walking out without it.”

Olmsted said that as soon as he got his laptop back he had it engraved by UTPD officials. He said he frequently sees students leave their belongings in the library or dorms and he thinks his experience has made him more aware of the consequences of being irresponsible with valuables. 

Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: UTPD warns against theft of valuables

Moments after campaigning opened for the 2011 Student Government elections Wednesday morning, Student Government hopefuls flooded campus hot spots with candidate logos and banners.

Because the Student Government Elections Code prohibited campaigning before Feb. 16, candidates were up until the wee hours of the morning preparing their campaigns, with some forfeiting sleep completely.

Vice-presidential candidate Sameer Desai, presidential candidate Abel Mulugheta’s running mate, said the executive alliance and their campaign members spent the entire night setting up.

“Literally at 12:01 when campaigning started, we swarmed Jester to hang banners and signs so when people woke up in the morning, they’d see ‘Abel and Sameer,’” he said. “We all lost sleep but we felt it was worth it because our campaign became a part of campus this morning.“

The pair’s logo, “One Texas,” was plastered all over Jester Center as early as 3 a.m. The team spent the rest of the night establishing their presence online, tagging more than 600 students on Facebook and inviting them to view their website.

Vice-presidential candidate Ashley Baker, who is running with Natalie Butler, said the most effective way they got students on board with their campaign was by calling on friends to help display the logo. Both Butler and Baker are currently University-wide representatives in SG.

“We reached out to friends about helping us campaign and we had an overwhelming response,” she said. “Our team has committed to tabling, wearing T-shirts and getting out as much information about our campaign as possible.”

Baker and Butler’s team passed out almost 5,000 fliers and more than 90 T-shirts on campus and have signs posted in West Campus.

Voting for the general elections begins at 8 a.m. March 3 and runs until 5 p.m. March 4. Polling stations will be available in Jester Center, the Flawn Academic Center and the Student Activities Center.

The Election Supervisory Board holds all of the candidates accountable, said the board’s chair, Eric Nimmer. He said the board will strictly enforce restrictions on all campaign spending.

“If any candidate spends a dime in regards to their campaign, they have to report it, and it has to be open knowledge to the public,” he said.

The spending limitations range from $350 for college representatives to $900 for an executive alliance.

Nimmer said the spending caps are to keep election races fair for every candidate.

“We don’t want one team spending $45,000 on campaign and being more visible simply because they can afford it,” he said. “The limit levels the playing field and puts everyone on the same page.”

Each student may cast one vote for president and vice president, one vote for each available seat for their college and eight votes for University-wide representatives at a campus location or online on the SG website. Students can also vote for representatives on the Texas Student Media board, the University Co-op Board of Directors, the Union Board and Graduate Student Assembly.